Will Obama Exceed His Authority Again?

Charged by President Obama with forming a task force to examine possible solutions to senseless shootings as we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last month, Vice President Joe Biden mentioned one tool available to the president is the Executive Order (EO). It is a viable tool for a president to specify how established constitutional precedent or statutes will be enforced, but it cannot be used to create law. If the president uses the EO to limit the 2nd Amendment, or to raise the debt limit, as has also been suggested, he would clearly be acting unlawfully.

There is only the most tenuous support for the use of the EO in the Constitution. Article II, Section, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution instructs that the president, as head of the Executive Branch of America’s tripartite government (executive, legislative, and judicial) “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

And for the most part, that is how the over 13,000 Executive Orders have been used over the past 240 years. Presidents have issued them, and Administrative Orders, to clarify or facilitate executive branch employees and agencies in implementing or enforcing laws in the Federal Register. In our constitutional republic, laws are made by the legislative branch, not the executive branch. The executive branch’s responsibility is to ensure that the laws created by legislative act are enforced, or executed.

Respect for the rule of law, the Constitution, and separation of powers are all that prevent our republic from turning into a despotic, totalitarian state. The executive branch has grown so much in power over the past 100 years especially, that it would not take much effort on the part of an unprincipled power-monger to literally usurp power reserved to the legislative and judicial branches, and act in totalitarian fashion by declaring laws and edicts from the Oval Office, if left unchecked.

That’s why many across the nation were alarmed last year when Obama brazenly declared, “If congress doesn’t act, I will.” What that signaled to the nation is that Obama considered his power to not be limited by constitutional or legal constraints, and that he could simply change or enact law by declaration, Executive Order, or fiat.

The limits of presidential declarations, like the EO, were clarified judicially by the landmark 1952 Supreme Court ruling of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. By executive order 10340, President Harry Truman declared that all steel mills in the country were to be placed under federal government control. The Supreme Court ruled, however, that the EO was invalid since Truman was essentially creating, or making law, as opposed to clarifying the executive branch enforcement of an existing law.

John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley, said in a research piece last year, “It’s the duty of the president. He must always uphold the law.” He further indicated that the only exceptions in doing so are if laws are unconstitutional or if prosecuting them can be reasonably deemed not viable.

Yoo’s comments were made following Obama’s Executive Directive to the Department of Homeland Security, that essentially granted amnesty to certain illegal aliens. Yoo, and co-author Robert Delahunty of the University of St. Thomas, argued that Obama created new law, by declaring that his DHS was not going to enforce legal statute.

Obama displayed the same contempt for constitutional constraints on his power when he declared he would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

This is precisely why many are concerned with yet another Obama term, where constitutional and legislative limitations on his power will likely be ignored even more blatantly. When the president of a country arbitrarily chooses which laws to enforce and which not to, and assumes or usurps powers of the states or other branches of government to which he has no lawful for legal claim, he is no longer functioning as a president for the people, but as a dictator of his own will.

On January 21, for the second time in four years, Obama will place his left hand on the Bible, raise his right arm to the square, and promise before the nation and the world that he will, to the best of his ability, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If, after making that promise, the president willfully and intentionally breaks his oath by either imposing new restrictions on the 2nd Amendment, or to increase the debt limit, by Executive Order, his actions will be tantamount to newlyweds immediately breaking their vows through infidelity. A citizen that acts outside of the law is, by definition, a criminal, and it’s no different for a president. The question each of us must ask is, how many times will he be allowed to trample the Constitution he has promised to uphold?

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board.  He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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Richard Larsen

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at rlarsenen@cableone.net.

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  1. So..a run of the mill thief that robs 3 different invidivual is subject to the 3 strike rule..Yet, a man that steals & robs you of your Constitution & rights can XO his way out…IF we change the lock on the Senate in 2014 we have a chance to at the very least, negate Obama’s compulsive need to think of his pen as a magic wand. This CAN BE DONE..IF each of us will stop leaving it to th ‘next guy’ to find the right candidate. Rely on you own ability. Most of us belong to some sort of ‘group’ larger or small. Find a potentical candidate, check them out, motivate those outside your inner circle to join you. Then support that man or woman. Make sure evry sould you know votes!!! Remember if you’re holding out both hands, the one for ‘wishes’ never gets full. This article is written with clarity that all, including me, can fully understand ‘whatz up’

  2. Obama will continue to exceed his authority until Congress stops him and looking at the House and Senate, do you see anybody there with the backbone to do it. Usurpation of power is an impeachable offense. Our politicians today would rather that Obama does the legislating, that way they don’t get their hands dirty and it leaves them more time for fund raising and campaigning for re-election. It is going to take a hell of a lot work to clean up the mess we have in our government and put our country back on the right track. Starting with electing honest politicians, if in fact there is such a thing.

    1. It is a tough fight ahead of us. I believe there is a little tyrant in EVERY politician. The Good ones are able to control this little tyrant. The really bad ones destroy Nations. So we have our work cut out for us. But this was a job (fight) a long time coming. If you look at the Constitution, at the Amendments, it is striking to note that after the first 10 that were ratified in 1791 plus one a few years later only 4 Amendments were added in the 19th Century. But in the 20th Century there were 12 Amendments add beginning in 1913! Interesting! The ideology of Marx and others were already being digested by the world but it is very interesting to note that at around the same time Socialism was becoming more in Vogue! In 1916 the Bolsheviks revolted and in the coming decades even the United States embraced socialism in the form of the New Deal. There was also this compulsion to Unit the Nations under a single world government. The Cold War really put a damper on the success of that objective but since the demise of the Soviet Union only the United States has really effectively slowed that process and objective down. I believe that the United States is the last obstacle to that end and when we go the entire world will fall into slavery – well more completely into slavery. Just a layman’s observations in a nutshell.

  3. Well put Mr. Larsen. This actually helps me understand Executive Orders and provides a degree of hope. Your last 3 paragraphs puts into words what I have thought for quite some time. This man is a “Dictator in the Making”. He has an overt contempt for the Law of the Land and due process. Why is he still in office and why have we not brought him to justice?

    ObAma responded to the Petition before the Whitehouse to impeach him with “No” (of course) and a message on how MUCH he respects and reveres the Constitution. Why, he studied the Constitution in college and he even taught courses on the Constitution as a professor! (Oh, my…). First, is there any doubt this guy knows exactly what he is doing? And second, whom does he think he is talking to? Just as in the debates he knows he is lying thru his teeth and he knows that intelligent and informed people understand that he is lying but he is NOT talking to us. He is talking to the Fools that he can Fool and he is counting on there being a lot of them! There is a passage in the Bible that says “you shall know a tree by its fruits”!!! I guess if you are not an Emo Leftist Progressive you will…

    I like your comments too, Jan! I continue to urge people to do more than just talk but to write to their legislators and the Governors of their States and their State legislators. I also try to encourage people to support or join organizations like the NRA and NAGR and I try to support these organizations as much as I can. And also I would like to eat more Tacos but I have to buy Bullets!

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